Is this the first bump in the road for Hillary Clinton’s inevitable inauguration? The blogosphere has been buzzing about Hillary successfully defending an accused child molester in one of her early cases as an attorney.
Hillary Clinton is known as a champion of women and girls, but one woman who says she was raped as a 12-year-old in Arkansas doesn’t think Hillary deserves that honor. This woman says Hillary smeared her and used dishonest tactics to successfully get her attacker off with a light sentence—even though, she claims, Clinton knew he was guilty.
This is not news. Lawyers have to defend people they know are guilty. And they are bound to defend those clients to the best of their ability within the law. That’s the way the system works. Our second President, John Adams, said one of the proudest achievements of his life was defending the soldiers who committed the Boston Massacre. Because though his heart was with the victims, he believed in the law. And frankly, I’m getting a bit tired of the “Politician A defended Slimeball B” accusations being used to disparage political opponents. This is their job. This is what lawyers do. Everyone has a right to a defense, even 42-year-old men who drug and molest 12-year-old girls.
In a long, emotional interview with The Daily Beast, she accused Clinton of intentionally lying about her in court documents, going to extraordinary lengths to discredit evidence of the rape, and later callously acknowledging and laughing about her attackers’ guilt on the recordings.
If Clinton was guilty of misconduct, that’s a story worth digging into. But if what she did was within the bounds of the law (the bounds on these cases much wider in 1975 than they are now), it’s not an issue. The recordings of Clinton laughing about it are disturbing but I don’t see an election turning on that.
(Speaking of laughter, the comments on these stories might provoke some gallows laughter if you care to sift through them. The Clinton supporters are saying that we shouldn’t care about this because it happened 40 years ago. I’m sympathetic to that but … you know … hell they know … that if Clinton were a Republican, this would be a HUGE scandal, something never to be forgiven, a sign of the GOP’s insensitivity to rape culture. This is exactly the kind of raw political partisanship that excused Bill Clinton’s womanizing, harassment and even rape accusations because he was “doing good things for women”.)
This story will doubtless be forgotten in two years. But I wanted to mention it for one big reason. Everyone is acting like Clinton’s victory in 2016 is inevitable. And certainly she would have to be the favorite right now, simply because no other candidate has as much prominence. I’m convinced she will win the Democratic nomination easily. But I don’t think her election is a done deal. Part of it is stuff like this. The Clintons have an enormous amount of baggage and the GOP has nearly a quarter century of research on them. When the skeletons are finally let out of the Clinton closet, it’s going to be like the Paths of the Dead scene in Lord of the Rings.
But the main reason I don’t think Hillary 2016 is inevitable is this: what the hell is Hillary’s campaign going to be about?
Seriously. What issues is she going to run on? She can’t run on Obama’s record since it isn’t that hot and Obama is unpopular. But she can’t run against it without splitting the party.
Healthcare? That used to be her issue but we have Obamacare and that’s quite enough, thank you. Foreign policy? The economy? None of those are winners for her. In the end, I suspect Hillary’s campaign will come down to “it’s my turn” and I just don’t see the voters jumping on that. They didn’t with McCain in 2008. Or Dole in 1996.
As I see it, she has two options. One is to hope that the economy is doing great, the world is settled down, the scandals blow over and Obamacare becomes popular. Then she can run on a campaign of continuing those policies. And also doing something about all the pigs flying through the air.
The other option … and I suspect that given the realities of Obama’s tenure, this is where she’ll go … is Republicans Be Crazy. She’ll attempt to portray them as deranged lunatics who want to end Medicare, take away your health insurance, crash the economy and start a war. She’ll rally the various parts of the Democratic coalition and try to isolate the Republicans to only representing old white Christian men. Such a campaign would be nasty and divisive but I strongly suspect this is the road she’ll take.
Because, that’s the other reminder in this story. The Clintons talk nice when they have nothing to gain or lose. But when it comes to something they want — be it a plea bargain or the White House — they will scorch the fucking Earth to get there.